With basically a week to let the Falcons picks mull over in my brain, here’s my insights on the Falcons 2009 draft.
1. Peria Jerry – I’m not in love with this pick, but I didn’t expect to be either. Jerry will be a solid addition to the Falcons interior defense and has nice upside to play either defensive tackle position. Much like the versatility that Marcus Stroud showed under Mike Smith in Jacksonville. I don’t think Jerry is quite as talented as Stroud is, but he should be a capable starter. I’m not confident that down the road Jerry will have the same sort of billing you expect out of a first round pick, but I think he should at least be as capable as Babineaux is. The issue with Jerry is injuries. He’s had a lot of lower body injuries, which means him getting much bigger than he is currently is probably not in his best interests.
2. William Moore – I really like this pick, no I love this pick. I was really high on William Moore, and I think he was the most underrated prospect in this entire draft. I know people are stuck on his issues in coverage, but he’s not horrible in coverage, just not good enough to project well at free safety. I think he’ll fit very nicely in our scheme as a strong safety, and if we ask him to do the same things we asked Milloy to do, then he should be able to perform them at least five times better, and still with the potential for growth.
3. Chris Owens – I know some Falcon fans were scratching their heads with this pick, with perceived better corners on the board. But I thought Owens was one of the few cornerback prospects that could emerge from this draft class and be a starter here. He’s not the most talented player, but he’s a hard worker and is a pure football player. Clearly, with the selection of Chevis Jackson last year, we can now see the trend of the team preferring ball skills and toughness over athleticism. I think it’s Chris Houston that is going to have to keep an eye on Owens since he’s the holdover. I think it’s very possible that Owens and Jackson could be a capable pair of starters by the end of 2010.
4. Lawrence Sidbury – He’s a bit of a project if you ask me. His edge speed is not really in question, but I think he’s more athlete than football player at this point. He’ll certainly help as a situational pass rusher coming off the edge, but I’m not sure he will progress much more than that. Even still, he should help the team out, but it remains to be seen if he’ll be a starter for us down the road.
5. Will Middleton – A bit of a surprising pick, but from what I hear about him he has the chance to help us out on specail teams, and also might get somewhat of a look at safety. Probably only as a dime back, but he can push for time. I don’t know enough about him to really like or dislike this pick. I’m just assuming he’s another Kroy Biermann, except in the secondary. Good player from a small school that will probably be a capable reserve, but that’s about it.
5. Garrett Reynolds – Reynolds probably will only be a swing tackle here in Atlanta, but given our immediate need there it makes sense. I would have rather had Andrew Gardner, but Reynolds is a decent backup option. If he can add strength he’ll add nice depth, but he’ll probably be limited as a starter.
6. Spencer Adkins – From what little I saw of Adkins last year, I was impressed by him. He has loads of speed, which you like. I don’t think he’s physical or big enough to really like his chances to contribute on regular defense, but there is some potential there if the team can capitalize on his athleticism. More than likely, he’ll be a solid special teams player, that just might be another Chris Draft in the making.
7. Vance Walker – He’ll help out the rotation, but I’m not sure he’s going to do much more than become a third or fourth option off the bench. I was impressed with Walker initially because he has nice burst as a pass rusher, but the more I saw of him the more limited he appeared to be. Lacks great burst and isn’t much of a factor vs. the run. But the Falcons need help in the rotation, and he can help.
Overall, I give this draft a solid B+. The Falcons needed to add some playmakers on the defensive side of the ball, and I think Moore is exactly that. I don’t think Jerry or Owens will be top starters, but I do think they can definitely contribute as above average to good starters. Everybody else is really depth more than likely, but that’s often the case with picks after the third round.